Dyson Sphere Concept Creator and Project Orion Co-Lead Has Died

https://www.npr.org/2020/02/28/810433230/physicist-and-iconoclastic-thinker-freeman-dyson-dies-at-96″>Freeman Dyson has died at the age of 96.

In 1958, the Project Orion Pulsed Nuclear Propulsion Rocket was started and was led by Ted Taylor at General Atomics and physicist Freeman Dyson. Freeman took a year away from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton to work on the project.

In the 1960s, Project Orion was a major effort to use nuclear bombs to propel a massive spaceship. Researchers had found that a massive metal plate could survive a nuclear blast and the plate could be accelerated to very high speeds.

Exploding a bomb 25 meters away would only use 1% of the energy of the explosion.

If the nuclear device is encased in a radiation case of x-ray opaque material (uranium) with a hole in the top. This forces the x-rays to to exit only from the hole. Whereupon they run full tilt into a large mass of beryllium oxide (channel filler).

The beryllium transforms the nuclear fury of x-rays into a nuclear fury of heat. Perched on top of the beryllium is the propellant: a thick plate of tungsten. The nuclear fury of heat turns the tungsten plate into a star-core-hot spindle-shaped-plume of ionized tungsten plasma. The x-ray opaque material and the beryllium oxide also vaporize a few microseconds later.

The tungsten plasma jet hits square on the Orion drive pusher plate. The plate is designed to be large enough to catch all of the plasma. With the reference design of nuclear pulse unit, the plume is confined to a cone of about 22.5 degrees. About 85% of the nuclear device’s energy is directed into the desired direction instead of 1%.

Each charge accelerates the spacecraft by roughly 12 m/s. A 4,000 ton spacecraft would use 5 kiloton charges, and a 10,000 ton spacecraft would use 15 kiloton charges. For blast-off, smaller charges of 0.15 kt and 0.35 kt respectively would be used while within the Terra’s atmosphere. The air between the charge and the pusher plate amplifies the impulse delivered, so if you are not in airless space you can get away with a smaller kt yield.

Freeman Believed Other Problems Were More Important Than Climate Change

Many Concepts from a Brilliant Mind

Dyson had several innovations and concepts.
* the Dyson sphere, a thought experiment where advanced space-faring civilizations could make a megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output.

* Astrochicken is a Dyson design for a one-kilogram spacecraft. It would be self-replicating and could explore space more efficiently than a manned craft could due to its innovative mix of technology.

It would mix biology, artificial intelligence and modern microelectronics. It would be a blend of organic and electronic components. Astrochicken would be launched by a conventional spacecraft into space, like an egg being laid into space. Astrochicken would then hatch and start growing a solar-energy collector. The solar collector would feed an ion drive engine that would power the craft. Once Astrochicken entered a planet’s vicinity, it would collect material from the moons and rings of the planet, taking in nutrients. It could land and take off using an auxiliary chemical rocket similar to that used by bombardier beetles. It periodically transmit details of its journey when it could make radio contact with Earth.

* Dyson’s transform is a fundamental technique in additive number theory, which he developed as part of his proof of Mann’s theorem

* the Dyson tree is a hypothetical genetically-engineered plant capable of growing in a comet

* the Dyson series, a perturbative series where each term is represented by Feynman diagrams

* Dyson’s eternal intelligence is a means by which an immortal society of intelligent beings in an open universe could escape the prospect of the heat death of the universe by extending subjective time to infinity while expending only a finite amount of energy.

SOURCES- Youtube, Wikipedia, Project Rho
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

28 thoughts on “Dyson Sphere Concept Creator and Project Orion Co-Lead Has Died”

  1. It would take a short course on thermodynamics to tell you why this won’t work. Including why the sunlight can’t be converted to electricity with 100% efficiency & why when the electricity is used for some purpose on that sphere the energy will end up as heat that must be radiated away.

    These articles are a good start.

    The closest thing to this idea that could be done in the real world would be to have solar power satellites relatively close to the sun operating at the maximum efficiency thermodynamics allows & beaming the useful energy elsewhere in the solar system & radiating the waste heat out into space.

    Besides, if the point of the Dyson sphere/swarm is living space, you want a big sphere.

  2. No, I’ve always failed to understand what their beliefs have to do with the evidence for AGW.

  3. Not at all. A future civilization wouldn’t build something like this unless they had very efficient solar panels. If too much solar energy got past that layer you’d just add another layer of absorbers and another, until only enough heat got through to the inhabited surface to keep it comfortably warm.

  4. But a sphere that small surrounding the sun would be lethally hot for carbon/water based lifeforms. However efficient the solar collectors, that sphere still has to radiate the total power output of the sun away. That power & the radius determines the temperature of the sphere.
    Using Newtons gravity law the radius of the sphere is 3.65e9 m
    Using the luminosity of the sun & the Stephan-Boltzman law, I get a temperature of 2500 K.

  5. No WAY!!!

    I’m scared of big spiders already, when I’m 3-4 orders of magnitude bigger than them. Now you want me to be the size of a spider-snack?

  6. You’ve got that exactly backwards. I understand Dyson’s skepticism, do you?

    What about Richard Lindzen or Judith Curry? Do you understand their criticisms?

    I understand both sides, can you say the same?

    I doubt it.

  7. The future will not be about building big. It will be about building small. Mankind will be the size of gnats with their own solar receptors. The human race will be a cloud of gnats spread across the solar system, hundreds of trillions of us.

  8. I like Dyson because he was a creative genius. But he did not invent the concept of the Dyson Sphere. That concept was invented by Olaf Stapledon in his novel, The Last and First Men, which is a good read if you like Sci-Fi.

  9. Don’t worry, I never expected the shining spear of evidence would ever pierce your adamantine shield of belief.

  10. For a Dyson Sphere, wouldn’t it make more sense to build a much smaller sphere that was just big enough to contain the Sun *and* have 1g on its outer surface? The outer surface (or portions of it) becomes a giant Earth in permanent night, warmed by the waste heat that makes it past the near perfect solar collectors on the inner surface.

  11. RIP. He will be missed. His ideas (the ones outside his work in real physics) were out there, though not necessarily brilliant.

    Also I have not forgot the book, though he was only marginally involved in it, “The Starship and the Canoe” written about his son George Dyson.

  12. RIP. He will be missed. His ideas (aside from his work in actual physics) were certainly out there though not necessarily brilliant.

    Also I did not forget, though he was only marginally involved in it, the book “The Starship and the Canoe” written about his son George Dyson.

  13. Sorry, I don’t listen to faux authorities who start with conclusions then massage data to fit.

  14. Yes, he is. His beliefs reflects the upper limits of cogency global warming skepticism usually ever achieve.
    It’s obvious he has no exposure to climate science and doesn’t want any, his positions are based solely on his unsupported beliefs. No one has a problem with the beneficial effects of CO₂ et al, it’s the negative effects that’s the problem. Positive effects doesn’t magically make negative effects go away. What drives some to believe the lack of the extra positive effects of the ever increasing amounts of CO₂ is such a detriment that the world should be made to endure the negative effects.

    Not every spot on the planet is the likes of Greenland. As some areas of the planet get greener, others will get browner.
    doi: 10.1002/wcc.190
    doi: 10.1191/0959683602hl566ft
    doi: 10.1126/science.1102586
    doi: 10.1038/nclimate3056
    You should listen to what climate science is saying and not the arguments from faux authorities.

  15. One of the most cogent global warming skeptics ever, and I’m sure some are secretly relieved he’s passed away.

  16. Dyson’s original concept wasn’t a solid sphere at all; his was just swarms of power collectors and orbital habitats. Any species that has space travel and even a very small positive growth rate will eventually get there, building habitat & solar farm bit by bit until most of the star is blocked off.

  17. Remarkable that this is barely picked up by the media. In my home country they instead mourn the death of some 3rd-grade singer-actor…

  18. Personally, I think the physics of a Dyson Sphere is ridiculous, but a perfect example of thinking ouside-the-box in order to come up with solutions.
    In the future, advanced societies will not just decide to build a solid sphere around our Sun, they will ask instead “How do we start collecting this wasted solar energy?” and go from there by building less ambitious structures.

  19. Sad. Yet he leaves us a legacy which should brighten all of our lives a little bit.
    My legacy will lie with my progeny, who make me proud that the world is a better place through their existence.

  20. RIP 🙁
    And no the stupid solid sphere is more Hollywood nonsense.
    An place who have the skill manages to loose money making movies for major franchises.

    You would get holes in the coverage as an full one would not be economical.

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